Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Julie George

Subject Categories

Political Science


Western Balkan, Ethnic Tensions, Ethnic Identity, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia


The Western Balkan has experienced a past of ethnic turmoil. From the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo to ethnic tensions in Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. Understanding that ethnicity itself continues to be a salient factor in Western Balkan, the question remains how Western Balkan states were able to remove themselves from the front light of ethnic tensions considering today these countries are known as being tourist destinations, cultural and academic meccas, and democratic candidates in line to join the European Union. In reviewing and comparing the geopolitical and social environment of three Western Balkan states: Montenegro, Serbia (without Kosovo), and North Macedonia, I argue that these states still encompass ethnic tensions to varying degrees that arise from factors such as: demographic concentrations, language and education policies, economic disparities, restrictions to party participation and elite power and manipulation. My argument will first revisit research which has shaped the greed versus grievance debate on ethnic tensions. Then, I will review the geopolitical and social environment of the three multi-ethnic states to discover factors institutionalized that resulted in outcomes of ethnic tensions. The second part of the paper will provide a cross-national comparison of the factors discussed to unveil which factors of greed and grievance result to ethnic tension across the board. While this analysis provides an overview of the minorities experience in the Western Balkans, it also contributes to the larger debate on greed versus grievance.